Everyone should stretch at least daily ... everyone knows this i'm sure, but few of us actually do anything about it. Sometimes this may be because of lazyness or lack of commitment to our own personal well being, but sometimes it can be simply the fact that you don't know how or why to stretch. What I would like to do with this part of the blog is put it out there once a week ... educate the population about why they should stretch, and also highlight simple stretches to do to keep your self in good condition. Don't think to yourself - "I'm not an athlete, and therefore I don't need to stretch" because that just simply isn't true.
Very basically and simply - stretching stimulates local circulation ... which increases the blood streams ability to remove metabolic waste and deliver oxygen and nutrition to the muscles ... which helps keep your muscles and soft tissues supple and healthy ... which helps you do the things you do all day, every day, that much easier ... which helps you live a happier, healthier, easier life! Whether you play sport - or have a physical job - or look after others, either kids or the elderly - or just really enjoy getting out there and having a go at whatever, regular stretching will help you to maintain good Range Of Motion (ROM) in your joints and avoid a little stiffness in your muscles.
There are a lot of sources out there for you to get information on stretching, and I don't pretend to be a Guru on the subject either. I get most of my information from a place called The Stretching Institute in the USA. I have purchased books that are quite informative, but more importantly I have purchased Stretching Charts that reside on the walls of my Treatment Room here in clinic, and it is from these charts that I will be drawing most of my information for this Stretching Blog. So let this be the 'Appropriate Referencing' that is legally required - if you would like to follow-up on any of this information, you can contact me either through this blog or through clinic, or you can visit the Stretching Institute on www.thestretchinginstitute.comor www.anatomyofstretching.com .
This post is starting to get alittle long now, and I don't want to bore anyone, but it might be the most appropriate place to list the rules for safe stretching ... and when I say 'rules', I guess I really mean 'guidelines' and they are there to help you avoid injuring yourself through stretching ... please make sure you read and understand them, and if you have any questions then again you can contact me through this blog or through clinic. So, the rules to safe stretching are:
* Assume the stretch start position and comfortably apply the stretch as directed. Think Yoga - gently and slowly, no ballistic actions or bouncing at joint end range. Once you can feel the stretch is sufficient for you (generally a tension through the target muscle/s), hold the position for 15-20 seconds then gently reverse the action to release the muscle/s.
* An effective stretch session will involve completing each stretch about 3 times, and making sure you stretch bilaterally (on both sides of your body equally).
* Never stretch an injury, or damaged muscles, tendons, etc.
* Warm-up prior to stretching.
* Stretch before and after exercise or heavy physical activity.
* Breathe slowly and easily during the stretches.
* Stretch only to the point of tension - never 'bounce' or apply ballistic aspects to your stretches.
* Stretch all major muscles, and their opposing muscles, gently and slowly.